Your Essential Guide to Goa: 13 Incredible Experiences Beyond The Beaches



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If like me, you love to have a shell in your pocket, salt in the air & sand in your shoes then Goa is the place for you. I typically enjoy a beautiful beach destination. I don’t need a whole lot. A little digging in the sand, making castles, walking barefoot on the beach and I’m happy.

Goa is one of the most popular beach destinations in India — and for good reason. With plenty of facilities to make your trip easier (like availability of motorbikes, cabs, good accommodation) Goa should be on the shortlist for your next vacation destination.

Where is Goa? Goa is a state in western India with coastlines stretching along the Arabian Sea. To its north is the state of Maharashtra, the state of Karnataka is to the east and south of Goa and the Arabian Sea forms its western coast.

Is Goa an island off India? Contrary to the belief of many non-Indians, it is not an island but the smallest state and a beach paradise of India. Goa to a great extent is rugged and hilly but rice-fields, coconut groves, orchards of jackfruit and mangoes hem the coastline.

The two main rivers of Goa are the Mandovi and the Zuari.

Here is a curated list of cool beach shacks in Goa. Click to read Where to stay, what to eat, what to do at Goa’s hippest beach shacks: What are beach Shacks in Goa & why stay in one!

Going to Goa as a kid to going there with my kids, Goa is clearly our favourite family destination. I would highly recommend you visit Goa, even if it is during the monsoon season. Unlike the general misconception, there's more to Goa than just beaches and beer! Check out these 13 unique things to do in Goa, India and make the most of your vacation trying these fun activities. #goa #goatrip #incredibleindia #beachvacay #tripideas #offbeatgoa Travel Goa beyond its Beaches

What is Goa famous for? Forts made of laterite stones, Portuguese Colonial Architecture, Museums, UNESCO Heritage & whitewashed churches, Hindu Temples, back-country spice farms, Yoga & Meditation and of course golden sand beaches – Goa has it all.

I have been visiting Goa ever since I was a child and now I take my children there. In this post I have used photographs from my trip with my mother and sister, so yes, you guessed it right that Goa is a safe place to visit in India.

Goa is best traveled slow. As we have been to Goa many times, there have been few vacations where we didn’t go monument visiting at all. We just lazed on a beach, under the sun enjoying Goan food.

If this is your first time in Goa, I would suggest you do not miss to visit the following 14 awesome places in Goa. If this is not your maiden trip to Goa, let me know in the comments how many of the following had you already visited 🙂


Wondering which places to visit to make the most of your money spent?

On popular dates of travel such as during Fall, Spring & festival time, flight tickets & Good Hotels tend to get fully reserved 3-4 months prior.

To avoid settling for something less than what you pay for, I recommend you plan your itinerary well in advance.

You can reserve your ticket and plan your trip to Goa, India with me and relax knowing that my trusted team will take good care of a fellow wanderlust traveler. FOR DETAILS EMAIL at

The following itinerary is good for exploring the places in Goa in 2 days.

Day 1

I have listed the following destinations in the order in which I visited them. Goa is home to more than a dozen Catholic churches, chapels, and convents. Many of the notable churches are so close to one another that you could see the lot in one day.

1. Basilica of Bom Jesus

The Basilica of Bom Jesus or Borea Jezuchi Bajilika located in old Goa holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. A UNESCO World Heritage Site this church is dedicated to the infant Jesus. The letters, “HIS” which are the first three letters of Jesus in Greek are inscribed on top of the Basilica.

The Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa

What does Bom Jesus mean? Bom Jesus means good Jesus or infant Jesus and the Basilica is dedicated to him. The basilica is the name given to certain churches which have been granted special privileges by the Pope. In 1946 it was raised to the status of a Minor Basilica.

Why is Bom Jesus Basilica famous? Bom Jesus Basilica is world famous for housing the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier, a Roman Catholic European missionary who died more than 450 years ago. The legend has it that St Francis Xavier’s body was exhumed in China. However, a year after his burial, his body was found to be inexplicably intact. The Society of Jesuit’s ordered that the remains be sent to Old Goa, where it has remained ever since, enshrined in the Basilica of Bom Jesus.

Apart from missing one arm, (by order of the church, his right arm was severed at the elbow and brought to Rome), and one toe (supposedly bitten off by an overzealous worshipper in the 16th century), St Francis’s body is surprisingly intact.

As one enters the Basilica of Bom Jesus, to the left is an exceedingly well-carved wooden statue of St. Francis Xavier. Ornate gilded reredos stretches from floor to ceiling behind the altar.

The main altar at the end of the nave (the central part of a church building is called nave) is flanked by two decorated altars in the transept, one dedicated to Our Lady of Hope and the other to St. Michael.

The richly gilded main altar has the figure of infant Jesus and above it is a large statue of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the order of Jesuits, gazing with fervor at a medallion on which is inscribed “HIS”.

Above the medallion, the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are depicted (Source).

Here is a curated list of cool beach shacks in Goa. Click to read Where to stay, what to eat, what to do at Goa’s hippest beach shacks.: What are beach Shacks in Goa & why stay in one!

On the southern side in the transept is a chapel with gilded twisted columns and floral decorations of wood, where the sacred relics of the body of St. Francis Xavier are kept.

The sacred relics of the body of St. Francis Xavier

The interior of this chapel is richly adorned with wooden carvings and paintings, depicting the scenes from the life of the Saint.

This coffin was made during the 1744 exposition. The lid of the coffin is attached with 3 hinges, and two handles are fixed on the upper and lower ends. It has three brass locks with three keys. One key was kept with the Archbishop, another with the Governor and the third with the Administrator.

In 1953 the sacred relics were transferred to the present coffin.

Located next door to the Basilica, the two-storeyed laterite building covered with lime plaster is the Cassa Professa or the “Professed House” of the Jesuits. The “Professed House” predates the Basilica.

There’s a modern art gallery attached to the Basilica, the entry fee to which is Rs. 5/-.

Basilica of Bom Jesus Timings & Entry Fee

Monday to Saturday:9:00 Am to 6:30 Pm

Sundays: 10:00Am to 6:30 Pm

Entry Fee: There is no entry fee to visit the Church.

How to Reach the Basilica of Bom Jesus

The Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa is located in Old Goa Rd, Bainguinim, Goa 403402. you can also hire a taxi or drive your own vehicle to the church. It is also a stop for the Hop On Hop Off Goa – City Sightseeing Bus Tour.

Availability of Parking at the Basilica of Bom Jesus

Parking space is available.

Do you need a guide to visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus

You don’t need to hire a guide since there is sufficient information displayed around the church. However, when we visited the church we hired a guide. It cost us Rs.100 for a group of 4 people.

Light & Sound Show at the Basilica of Bom Jesus

The Professed House of the Jesuits hosts a Light & Sound show titled “Kallzachi Zatra” or “A Pilgrimage of the Heart”, depicting the journeys of St. Francis Xavier and the Indian saint St. Joseph Vaz, who worked extensively in Sri Lanka. The duration of the show is around 30 minutes. The show has limited seats. Do visit early (preferably before 3 pm) so as not to miss the show.

Is it allowed to click pictures inside the Basilica of Bom Jesus ?

You can take pictures inside the Basilica but you can neither take selfies nor pictures of anyone else posing in front of the altar.

Is there any dress code it visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus Church?

Entrance to the Basilica is refused to those wearing :

  • Sleeve-less tops
  • Skirts / Shorts/Dresses above the knee level.

However, you can buy sarongs (for Rs.100/-) to wrap around yourself.

Availability of Toilets

Toilet facility is available. However, at the time of my visit to the Basilica, the toilets were not clean.

Availability of Drinking water

Facility of Water coolers with Free Drinking water is available. There is also a small shop in the parking lot which sells Bottled water and eatables. Unfortunately, irresponsible tourists are seen to carelessly toss around plastic bottles and wrappers.

Some more Information

  • Opened: 15 May 1605
  • Architectural style: Baroque architecture
  • Construction started: 1594
  • Architects: Domingos Fernandes, Julião Simão

These posts will help you plan your trips so that you stay safe and healthy.

Fontainhas, a UNESCO Heritage Zone, also known as Goa’s Latin Quarter is located in Panjim, Goa. Head to this place to experience the offbeat Goa: Exploring Goa Beyond Beaches: the Colorful Neighborhood of Fontainhas.

2. The Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina

Se Cathedral at Goa

The magnificent 16th-century Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina, known as Se Cathedral, is the largest church in Asia. It also happens to be one of the most ancient and celebrated religious buildings of Goa. The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria on whose feast day in 1510, Alfonso Albuquerque defeated the Muslim army and took possession of the city of Goa. Hence it is also known as St. Catherine’s’ Cathedral.

It is located in Velha in Old Goa on the other side of the road facing the Basilica of Bom Jesus.

The Portuguese-Gothic in style Cathedral stands to the west of the great square called Terreiro de Sabaio and has its façade turned to the east.

Its beautiful courtyard is approached by a flight of steps.

The Sé Cathedral has five bells. The existing tower houses a famous bell, one of the largest in Goa and often referred to as ‘Golden Bell’ on account of its rich tone which has been immortalized in a Portuguese poem.

The main altar is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, and old paintings on either side of it depict scenes from her life and martyrdom.

The Cathedral has a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior.

In the nave, near the altar, to the right is a projecting gallery on which is kept an 18th century organ. In the nave near the altar are seats for the canon and a throne for the archbishop. There is also a richly carved ebony stand, which was originally in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi (Source).

The adjoining convent has been turned in to an Archeological Museum and is open to the public.

Just behind the cathedral lies a two-storied edifice, the Palace of the Archbishop, which is no longer in use. The Franciscan church lies to the west of the cathedral.

Se Cathedral Goa timings & Entry Fees

  • All days: 7:30 am – 6:00 pm
  • Mass Timings:
  • Weekdays – 7:30 am and 6:00 pm
  • Sunday – 7:15 am, 10:00 am and 4:00 pm

Entry Fee: There is no entry fee to visit the Church.

Is it allowed to click pictures inside the Se Cathedral ?

You can take pictures inside the Cathedral but you can neither take selfies nor pictures of anyone else posing in front of the altar.

Is there any dress code it visit the Se Cathedral?

If you are visiting religious places in India, avoid wearing the following kind of clothes.

  • Clothes with low necklines which show cleavage,
  • Clothes which are above knees,
  • Clothes which are see-through and
  • Clothes with religiously offensive prints

If your clothes fall under the above 4 categories, then I would suggest carrying a Sarong with you.

A Sarong or a Stole easily fits in a hand bag and if you wish to visit any religious place, you can simply drape it around you.

Instructions displayed at the entrance of the Cathedral

Availability of Toilets

Toilet facility is available. However, at the time of my visit to the Cathedral, the toilets were not clean.

Availability of Drinking water

The facility of Water coolers with Free Drinking water is available inside the adjoining Museum.

Some More Information

  • Architectural style: Portuguese Gothic architecture
  • Status: Cathedral
  • Dedication: Catherine of Alexandria
  • Architect: Julião Simão

If this is your first trip to India you will find these posts helpful:-

3. Dona Paula

The idyllic rocky Dona Paula is a secluded bay that lies at the spot where the Mandovi and the Zuari rivers meet the Arabian Sea.

Dona Paula view point

Also on the islet is the “Belvedere”, a Greco – Roman type of structure, from where one can view the Arabian Sea and the River Zuari.

“Belvedere”, a Greco – Roman type of structure

After climbing a flight of stairs you get a magnificent view of the Mormugao harbor.

I would recommend visiting Dona Paula during early mornings or/and just before Sunset for awesome views.

During the months of October to May, the Dona Paula-Mormugao Harbour Ferry takes passengers across the bay.

Water scootering facilities are also available over here. Other water sports like boating, para-sailing, water scooters, yachting, swimming, windsurfing, and fishing are available in the area (Source).

The legend of Dona Paula – Spook Alert!

One legend has it that Dona Paula de Menezes had a love-affair with the Governor. When the Governor’s wife discovered their love affair, she had Dona Paula, stripped and bound and rolled over the cliff, into the sea, wearing only her string of pearls, a gift of love from the Governor.

The fishermen of the area claim that at the stroke of midnight, the spirit of the Dona Paula rises from the sea and roams the area, wearing a string of pearls and nothing else.

The white statues at Dona Paula

The whitewashed statues at Dona Paula named “Image of India” were sculpted in 1969 by the Dutch sculptress, Baroness Von Leistner.

There are two contradictory versions about whose statues these are.

According to the Goa Tourism site, The statues depict the figures of Mother India and Young India, one looking to the East and the other to the West. The Wheel of Ashoka is in the middle half buried in stone to represent the ancient culture, that nurtured this blend of ideas and emotions.

According to Heta Pandit in her book ‘Walking in Goa,’ the sculptures are that of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Knox. The Dutch sculptress, Baroness Yrse Von Leistner who etched the sculptures as she was in awe of the philosopher Robert Knox.

These statues were a gift to Goa, in 1967, through a Will, by late Mrs. Robert Knox, these details being mentioned on the plaque on the statue rock.

Click here to read about Shaniwar Wada: A Quiet fort with a Noisy (and perhaps) Spooky Past!

3. Raj Bhavan

Raj Bhavan: The official residence of the Governor of Goa, Known as Raj Bhavan is situated on the westernmost tip of Dona Paula.

The sprawling 88 acres estate is located on a cape in the Goan capital, Panjim, known by the name “Palacio do Cabo”.

The visit to the Raj Bhavan includes:
1. Arrival at Reception Area
2. Aushadhi Vatika
3. Helipad
4. Cannon Point
5. Raj Bhavan Museum
6. Our Lady of Cape Church
7. Sea Viewpoint
8. Grotto
9. View of Raj Bhavan Palace

Till date these landmarks were not open for the general public, however, the Hon’ble Governor has decided to open the doors of Raj Bhavan for the general public w.e.f 5th Jan 2019.

Citizens will get to explore the grandeur and architectural beauty of Raj Bhavan, which will, in turn, generate revenue to the Government.

Things to know before you go to Raj Bhavan, Goa

1.The general public can visit Raj Bhavan 3 days a week I.e Friday’s, Saturday’s & Sundays.

2.Online request should be made at least 3 days before the date of visit. Entry to Raj Bhavan will be only on confirmation of request through sms/email, after police verification.

3.Entry to Raj Bhavan for Visitors will be through the Main Entry Gate of Raj Bhavan.

4.Visiting time will be in 2 slots i.e. (1) from 14:30 Hrs. to 16:00 Hrs. and (2) from 16:00 Hrs. to 17:30 Hrs. The reporting time for the first slot will be at 14:00 Hrs. and for the second slot will be at 15:30 Hrs. Entry will not be permitted to those who are not reporting at the designated time.

5.Indian Citizens are required to produce the valid photo ID card in original. Foreign nationals will be required to produce and deposit their original passport for identification at entry point. (This ID should be same as the one used for booking on website)

6.Registration charges per person, per day will be Rs.300/- (Rupees Three Hundred only) and payable only through online and is non-transferable. No entry fee would be charged for children below the age of 12.

7.Visitors will be allowed to move to/access only specified location points of Raj Bhavan as instructed by Tour Guide. If visitors are found at areas restricted for public access, Raj Bhavan reserves the right to escort the visitors out of the Raj Bhavan without giving any explanation.

8.Outside eatables/beverages are not allowed within the premises of Raj Bhavan Goa.

9.The visitors entering Raj Bhavan Goa should not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If found to have consumed or consuming such substances, Raj Bhavan Goa reserves the right to stop the concerned visitor and escort him out of the Raj Bhavan premises.

10.Visitors should be dressed with appropriate / decent dress code. Kindly note that visitors wearing indecent and revealing clothes will not be allowed to enter Raj Bhavan premise. If found in indecent dress, Raj Bhavan reserves the right to stop the entry of concerned visitor to Raj Bhavan.

11.For security reasons, Governor’s Office reserves the right to approve/reject the request to visit Raj Bhavan. The Governor’s Office also reserves the right to cancel without assigning any reason, if the circumstances render it necessary.

12.However, if due to unforeseen circumstances the booking is cancelled by Raj Bhavan, the entire amount shall be refunded to visitors account.

13.Parking of vehicles of the Visitors will be outside the Raj Bhavan premises.

Tickets to the Raj Bhavan, Goa can booked from their official site.

Need more travel inspiration?

4. British Military Cemetery

Along the road leading to Raj Bhavan, lies the ruins of the small military cemetery the British built at their brief occupation of the Cabo, to deter the French from invading Goa.

Look out for the signpost (image on the right) on the road or else you are likely to miss the place.

There is not much to see here except ruins. You can perhaps just drive past the area.

I was curious and went closer to the gate but the gate was closed and the place was mostly in ruins.

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  3. 15 Most Popular Festivals in India (with 2020 dates).
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5. Miramar Beach

Miramar is the beach area of the Goan capital of Panjim, also known as Panaji and is one of the most visited beaches of Goa.

“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.” -Jeanne Moreau

“Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures, life and living need not be so hard” – Psyche Roxas-Mendoza

Pineapples are such delicious summer fruits

6. Tropical Spice Plantation Goa (Ponda)

When our driver suggested we visit the Spice Plantation in Goa we were reluctant to go, suspecting it to be a very touristy crowded place where they will try to force us to buy spices from their plantation.

With all the outing we were famished and we were also looking for a place to eat.

Our driver suggested that not only is the Spice Plantation not crowded but the food there is also nice. We gave in to his persistence and decided to give it a try.

In hindsight I think a visit to the spice plantation is worth a visit!

I LOVE the way Spices are part of not only Indian cooking but also find an important place in our “Home Remedies” Section. Take, for example, turmeric which is not only renowned for its pungent flavor but also for its extremely antiseptic medicinal properties.

So is the Spice Plantation in Goa worth visiting? Yes, it is. Go here for a tour of the verdant spice plantation, listen to the melody of birds calling out, laze around by the stream or simply enjoy a stroll through the stretch of beetle nut plantations. Considering how all-pervasive spices are in Indian culture, it is rather surprising how little is known about them.

The spice plantations help you understand the origin and advantages of various spices and the integral ways in which they shape what Indians eat.

Some spices are roasted before being used, others are pounded finely or coarsely depending on the recipe. Spices are used for tempering right at the end of cooking or at the beginning. Some spices are roasted before being used, others are pounded. They can be dry-ground or pulverized with other ingredients like coconut (Extract from Marryam H. Reshii’s book “The Flavour of Spice”.)

During the Spice Plantation tour, the well-informed guide introduced us about various spices and their medicinal values. Black pepper, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Cinnamon, Cloves, Chillies, Coriander are a few spices that you can see here.

One of the interesting spices that I came across was the “All Spices plant”.

What is Allspice? Allspice is a small, scrubby evergreen tree that produces the allspice berries. The Allspice berries bear a strong resemblance to black pepper. Allspice takes its name from its aroma, providing a flavor reminiscent of 5 spices namely, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, with slight peppery overtones.

In much of the world, allspice is called pimento because the Spanish mistook the fruit for black pepper, which the Spanish called Pimienta.

The plant is found in the Western Ghats on India in places that were once under the Dutch or the Portuguese rule.

The AllSpice is also available on Amazon.

Cashew feni (Goa’s famous tipple) is produced in an organic distillery within the spice plantation.

At the end of the tour, the guide trickled down our backs a combination of water & locally made lavender oil. It was very ticklish when it rolled down our backs (I love the expression on my mom’s face) at the same time it was super refreshing.

They serve fresh organically grown Food from their farms. Seafood, as well as Chicken, is served. Halal chickens are served here. The plates in which the food is served are made of Beetle nut (Supari) Leaves.

A sample of Goa’s world famous Kaju Feni or Urraq (A lighter version of Feni) is served with lunch. If you want more than the sample served you need to pay extra.

Availability of Drinking water

Free drinking water from Filter water coolers is available. If you so wish you can also buy Plastic bottle mineral water. Me? I always carry my own bottle and refill it from water filters.

Toilet Facility

Toilets are clean and have both Indian and Western toilets. There were no tissue rolls inside the toilets. There was soap to wash hand near the wash basins.

Important information regarding Tropical Spice Plantation

Address: H. No. A-14, Arla Bazar Keri, Ponda, Ponda, Goa 403401

Timings: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Parking: Ample parking space.

  • Entry Fee:
  • Adult – Rs.400.00,
  • Child – Above 5 years and below 7 years Rs 200
  • Child – 5 years and below no charge.

Lunch: Included (Choice of Veg & Non-Veg. Menu available at the venue counter).

A flight of stairs (see image above) takes you to the ticket counter. Post the ticket counter there is a bridge to cross with lovely views. Few ducks can be seen sun bathing after a fresh shower or rain.

Where is Spice Plantation in Goa?

I had visited Tropical Spice plantation in Ponda. Goa Tourism site mentions 4 Spice Plantations. I have collated relevant information regarding all four.

Tropical Spice Plantation

  • Address: H.No. A-14 , Arla Bazar Keri, Ponda, Kerim, Goa 403401
  • Hours: 10 AM to 4 PM
  • Phone: 0832 234 0329

Pascoal Spice Village

  • Address: Khandepar Belgaum Road, Opposite Nestle India, Khandepar, Ponda, Goa 403401
  • Phone: 099237 49287

Sahakari Spice Farm

  • Address: Ponda Belgaum Highway, Curti, Ponda, Goa 403001
  • Hours: 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM
  • Phone: 0832 231 2394

Savoi Plantations – Spice of Life

  • Address: 50, Savoi, Marcel Ponda Road, Ponda, Goa, 403401
  • Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM
  • Phone: 096378 38389

Next, we visited two famous temples of Goa. My maternal grandparents’ family deities are Shanta Durga and Lord Mangesh (an avatar of Lord Shiva).

The temples of Shree Shantadurga and Shree Mangesh, two of the most revered patron deities of the Hindu Goud Saraswat Brahmin community are located in Kavlem and Mangeshi respectively in the Ponda district of North Goa.

7. Shanta Durga Temple

The temple of Shree Shantadurga is dedicated to Goddess Shree Durga.

The legend has it that Jagdamba Devi (Durga) mediated and brought peace between the warring Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Since she brought peace (Shanti) she came to be known as

Shantadurga Devi. This current temple structure of Shree Shantadurga devi was built during the period from 1713 a.d to 1738 a.d.

The original place of Shree Shantadurga devi was at Keloshi. From there devi was shifted to Kavlem during the rule of portuguese government.

  • An Agarshala [guest house] has been built on three sides of Shanta Durga temple.
  • Room Rent: First 3 Days – INR 100/-, Next 2 Days – INR 200/-
  • The blocks are allotted only to the Mahajans/Kulavis whose Kuldaivat [ family deity ] is Shree Shantadurga Devi and for a maximum period of 5 days only.

There is also a Khanaval [canteen] which provides pure vegetarian food made in Karwari style.

Address: Shree Shantadurga Saunsthan, Kavale, Ponda, Goa 403401. Devasthan Email:
Devasthan Telephone: (Off.) +91 832 2312557 & +91 832 2319900
Devasthan Mobile: +91 82750 11216

8. Shri Mangeshi Temple 

The temple architecture is a mix of Hindu, Christian and Muslim influences and is lit up in magnificent lights during the annual Jatra which is held in January.

In ancient times the temple was located at Kushasthali (presently known as Cortalim). During the Portuguese Inquisition, the devotees of Lord Manguesh removed the linga (symbol of Lord Shiva) from the original temple and transferred it in the middle of the night to the present location at Priol which was under the control of Adil Shah.

The shifting of the deity to the present location took place in the year 1560.

Since the time of shifting, the temple was rebuilt and renovated twice during the reign of the Marathas and yet another time in the year 1890.

The final renovation occurred in the year 1973 when a golden Kalash (holy vessel) was fitted atop the tall dome of the temple (Source).

The deity is taken out in a palanquin and paraded in huge chariots during the festival which is attended by thousands of devotees.

How to Reach Mangueshi Temple Complex

The Mangueshi temple or the Manguesh Devasthan is at Priol in Ponda taluka, about 21 kilometers from the capital city of Panaji.

The surrounding area is known as Mangueshi.

One can take a bus to Ponda, or hire an auto rickshaw, private cab, and even ride a rental bike to the temple.

If this is your first trip to India you will find these posts helpful:-

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  2. 30 Breathtakingly Beautiful Destinations in India that you should not miss visiting!
  3. 15 Most Popular Festivals in India (with 2020 dates).
  4. Visiting India? Here’s What should tourists wear in India?
  5. Should you tip in India? Read when, whom & how much to tip.
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9. Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception

The Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church with its majestic stairway is dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. The Panjim Church, situated on the slope of the Conceição Hill, is popularly called ‘The Panjim Church’ by the people of Goa.

Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church Address & Timings

Address: Altinho, Panjim, Goa – 403 507

Feast Day:December 8th

Weekdays – 
7:00 am (Konkani) 
8:00 am (English) 
6:00 pm (Konkani) 
10:00 am – 12:30 pm (Devotees allowed to visit and pray in the Church)
3:00 pm – 5:30 pm (Devotees allowed to visit and pray at the Church)

Saturdays –
7:00 am (Konkani) 
8:00 am (English) 
6:00 pm (Konkani – Sunday Liturgy) 
10:00 am – 12:30 pm (Devotees allowed to visit and pray in the Church)
3:00 pm – 5:30 pm (Devotees allowed to visit and pray at the Church)

Sundays –
7:00 am (Konkani) 
8:15 am (English) 
9:15 pm (Konkani/English) 
10:30 am (Portuguese) 
5:30 pm (Konkani)
11:00 am – 12:30 pm (Devotees allowed to visit and pray in the Church)
3:30 pm – 5:30 pm (Devotees allowed to visit and pray at the Church)

Bollywood Movies shot in Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church

  1. The song Sailaru, from the movie Josh (2000) was short in front of Panjim’s iconic Church Of Our Lady Of  Immaculate Conception.
  2. Mujhse Shaadi Karogi.
  3. Aashiqui 2.

10. Fontainhas, Goa’s Latin Quarter

Fontainhas in Panjim is also known as Goa’s Latin Quarter.

Flanked by an ancient creek called Ourem Creek to the east and the Altinho hills with springs to the west, walking in the colorful and vibrant Fontainhas is like walking back during the Portuguese rule in Goa.

Built in colonial architecture with artistic doors, traditional balconies and painted in hues of green, pale yellow, and blue, with red-colored tiled roofs, Fontainhas in Panjim will charm you with its time wrapped elegant houses.

The 19th century white colored Chapel of St. Sebastian looks serene in this colorful neighborhood.

Inside the Chapel are three gorgeous altarpieces, a crucifix, and a statue of the Virgin Mary.

There’s a unique thing about the crucifix housed here—the figure of Christ on it has eyes wide open.

This unusual feature of Christ with open eyes is said to have been conceived especially to strike fear into the minds of those being interrogated by the Inquisitors.

In mid-November, a street fair sets up outside the chapel to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Livrament.

Fontainhas is full of such lovely Instagrammable places. I hope my images from Fontainhas do justice to the place.

Sea Food at Cafe Ritz Bar & Restaurant, Panaji, Goa

Patronized by locals as well as returning tourists, Cafe Ritz Bar & Restaurant is the first name that comes to your mind when it comes to seafood in Panjim.

You need to be patient at this place as it remains jam-packed during the lunchtime. I would highly recommend the Sea-Food platter which has a combo of many Goan-style sea-food preparations. Try to get here by 12:30 pm for lunch and by 8 p.m for dinner as the place tends to get very busy and there is a long waiting queue.

  • Address: Duarto Pacheco road, Panaji, Goa 403001
  • Hours: 12 PM to 11 PM
  • Phone: 0832 664 4817

11. Fort Aguada

Couple of years ago I had stayed at Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa in Goa.

Overlooking the Arabian Sea and featuring Portuguese designs, Taj Fort Aguada is just 100 m from Fort Aguada (You can click here for reviews and availability).

Inspite of staying at such close proximity from the fort we had not visited the fort.

Many years later, when we visited Fort Aguada it was swamped with tourists. However, the majestic panoramic ocean vista makes you forget the noisy touristy area.

Who built Aguada fort?

In 1612, Fort Aguada was built by the then Portuguese rulers for providing fresh water supply to the ships passing by in the Arabian Sea. Fort Aguada’s ramparts and its well-preserved lighthouse overlook Sinquerim Beach and the Arabian Sea.

Aguada is a Portuguese word which means “Watering Place” and hence the name of the fort!

Built of durable laterite stone, the fort’s massive bulwarks stand 5 meters high and 1.3 meters thick. The fort walls have stood the test of time, lashed as they are by fierce monsoon storms and winds.


The Aguada fort also numbers among its splendors a four-storeyed lighthouse.

This lighthouse was built in 1864 and is the oldest of its kind in Asia.

It once used oil lamps to emit a beacon of light once every seven minutes, which was later upgraded to emit light every 30 seconds.

Although this lighthouse fell into disuse in 1976 and is most often closed to the public, there is a new lighthouse built closer to the edge of the cliff, called the Aguada Lighthouse and DGPS (Source of the above information).

Aguada Fort Goa – Timing

The Fort Aguada is open all days of the week from 9.30am to 6.00pm

For those wondering how to reach Fort Aguada from Panjim, there are several buses and taxis available easily. It is about 16 km from Panaji (Panjim). Goa International Airport is 39 km north of the fort.

12. Instagrammable Central Jail, Goa

Right below the fort is the Aguada Central Jail, which has caught the attention of tourists due to its interesting Instagrammable location overlooking the sea.

The Fort Aguada was converted into jail during the Salazar administration, some say to house his political opponents. Beginning in 1946, dozen of peaceful protestors demanding that Goa be handed back to India, found themselves imprisoned here.

Although the jail itself is closed to the general public, there is a rather magnificent statue just outside the gates of the prison area which commemorates the freedom struggle of Goa.

The statue depicts the figures of a man and a woman, the man cradling a child and the woman with her arms raised, breaking the chains which bind her (Source).

13. Museum of Goa (MOG),

Museum of Goa is also known as MOG. ‘Mog’ in Konkani means Love.

Indian Bison welded steel statue at the entrace of Museum of Goa in North Goa, India
The gaur which is the largest extant bovine is also the State Animal of Goa in India.

This Museum in North Goa, India, is in fact not a museum but a unique private contemporary art gallery created and curated by love by Dr. Kerkar. 

Installations depicting Cotton balls with one ball having the head of Sheep in Museum of Goa, India
Cotton Pods with patterns of Crochet

Children, as well as adults, will enjoy visiting this Gallery. MOG explores Goa’s history through the lens of contemporary art through an interesting and eclectic mix of sculptures, installations, paintings, and pottery.

In spite of its Art Gallery like tranquillity, this is not a dreary place.

Spanning over 1,500 Sq ft and Sprawled across three floors in the middle of the dusty industrial area of Pilerne in North Goa, the Museum of Goa was a pleasant surprise.

The MOG Store offers beautiful jewelry inspired by the sea. You can also buy T-shirts, postcards, badges, fridge magnets, small sculptures, had crafted souvenirs worthy of curation.

Museum of Goa timings

MOG is open on all days from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Museum of Goa entry fee

The Museum of Goa Ticket Price is as follows:-

Indian – Rs. 100 per adult
Foreigner- Rs. 300 per person
Students- Rs. 50 per person (Indians)
Students- Rs. 150 per person (Foreigners)

Museum of Goa Location

Plot No 79, Pilerne Industrial Estate , Pilerne , Bardez Goa  – 403511

Chilly installations in the Museum of Goa, India, Asia

If you love slow travel, try your hands at Travel Sketching, Painting, even Yoga. The following 3 posts will keep you creative in your Sojourn.

What is the best time to visit Goa?

The best time to visit Goa is from November to February when the weather is pleasant and comfortable, the beach shacks are open and the party scene is alive. Goa is a tropical state and so May to September are considered off-season due to the summer heat. The monsoons hit Goa by early or mid-June which makes the climate very humid and my personal advice would be to avoid visiting Goa especially during June and July. By August Goa takes a lovely shade of green and if you like rains then August is a better month to visit Goa.

The beachside shacks remain closed during monsoons and open around September.

I have personally been to Goa in almost all seasons and I think the Goan charm just takes over the weather restraints. So if your mean boss approves your leave only in offseason, I say, GO FOR IT – Goa never disappoints.

we enjoyed our Breakfast by the Candolim Beach

Places to visit in the Central South Goa

  •     St. Catherine Chapel
  •     ASI Museum
  •     Se Cathedral
  •     Arch of Viceroy
  •     Basilica of Bom Jesus
  •     St. Augustine Tower
  •    Ribandar Patto Circle

Places to visit in the Panjim City

  •    Enroute – Panjim Kadamba Circle
  •     Panjim Church
  •     Enroute – Palace of Archbishop
  •     Goa Science Center
  •     Dona Paula beach
  •     Miramar Beach
  •     Kala Academy
  •     Bhagwan Mahavir Garden
  •     Panjim Market
  •     Casino Point / Adil Shah Palace / Customs Museum
  •    Enroute – Old Goa Secretariat
  •    Ribandar Patto Circle
  •     Goa State Museum

Places to visit in North Goa

  •     Mall De Goa – Porvorim
  •     Saligaon Church
  •     St. Alex Church
  •     Baga Beach
  •     Calangute Beach
  •     Candolim Beach
  •     Sinquerim Beach
  •     Fort Aguada


Travel Goa:Popular attractions to lesser-known hidden gems, explore Goa in a unique manner. It is one of the most popular photographic destinations in India due to its rich heritage, scenic beaches, tropical climate, exotic handicraft, and warm people. Wondering what to expect in Goa, India? Here's a first timer's guide! Check out these unique things to do in Goa, India and make the most of your vacation trying these fun activities #goaphotographyideas #goaindia #goaindiathingstodoin
Travel Goa:Popular attractions to lesser-known hidden gems, explore Goa in a unique manner. It is one of the most popular photographic destinations in India due to its rich heritage, scenic beaches, tropical climate, exotic handicraft, and warm people. Wondering what to expect in Goa, India? Here's a first timer's guide! Check out these unique things to do in Goa, India and make the most of your vacation trying these fun activities #goaphotographyideas #goaindia #goaindiathingstodoin

If you love slow travel, try your hands at Travel Sketching, Painting, even Yoga. The following 3 posts will keep you creative in your Sojourn.

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11 thoughts on “Your Essential Guide to Goa: 13 Incredible Experiences Beyond The Beaches”

  1. Wow such a great and brief information about every place. I have read many articles about Goa but I didn’t see this kind of brief in others. Such a useful post for travelers. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Beautifully written and composed with valuable information. Being a Goa lover, this has by far one of the best article I have seen. Thank you.


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